He sits beside me, picking is fingers. Pulling his knees up, he rests his arms on the apex and drops his head. Hard words come slowly and I have to remember to listen. Be present. Just be still.
Which is hard.
This becomes familiar. This sitting and waiting and listening and being… I am watching each of my children grow into a place where what they need changes from my husband and I and we are called to change with them.
It feels like so much of parenting is doing. So much of it is care-taking and driving and planning and creating and the task-list for tomorrow seems to have no end. We learn that early on, don’t we? Baby in arms, we suddenly realize that this brand new creature can literally do almost nothing alone. On the last day of pregnancy, we were able to fully attend to our own needs. Turn one calendar page and those needs fall so far down the list that we often forget to tend to them at all. And maybe it is meant to be that way. Maybe, in seeing the helplessness of that babe, we suddenly understand our own importance in the life of another. And so we step up and begin to do. A lot.
We are told that as they grow, there is less actual work involved. But as a momma to three teens, I will tell you that I do not find this to be true. The work is different, yes. But less? No. Definitely not.
These days, I am called to a new job that creates an inner struggle that I battle daily. And maybe you do, too. As my babies grow in wisdom and ability, it is my job to be present and often, to be still. And while I may be internally-wired much like the mom in The Goldbergs, I am learning that acting on my deep desire to do for my brood will not lead them to the place I hope they go.
I want them to grow up and build lives that grew out of experiences that offered them opportunities for growth. Growing out of safety and a protective shield will not produce for them the same depth of character and spiritual depth that I so want them to have. I cannot just tell them all these truths, instead they must learn to live them out.
Choosing to be still is a decision that I believe makes all the difference in the world. If we buy into the perception that older children need less parenting, we may find ourselves absent at a time when they need our presence the most. As I sat with my teens recently, I was reminded that where my voice was once so needed, now it is my ears that they need… my attention, my ability to sit with my children as they think it through.
And yes, this is hard because when they are wounded or struggling or trying to find their way, everything in me screams to scoop them up and make them safe. I want to give in to the impulse and protect my little ones from what may break their heart. It is a battle for me. But, realizing this is not what they always need may be one of the hardest thing I have to learn.
Oh mommas, we need wisdom, don’t we? We need ways to understand when our parenting journey has taken this turn. We need to learn that a time comes when doing is not the task at hand. We need to see our children, as they grow, and know that it is a rare and beautiful thing to sit alongside someone you love and let them be. Allow their hurt. Listen to their story.
And just be still.
I do not think it is an accident that God wrote in Psalm 46:10 that we need to “Be still and know that I am God.”. This verse floods over me as I find a way to say less and be close. Whatever struggles face my four, they will not always need it to be fixed. Sometimes it is far more meaningful to find that family means having a place to land, that being loved means you are not alone. And as I practice this sacred stillness, I remind myself again and again that He is God. Mine and theirs. And not one second of this journey is outside of His grasp.
Today, whether your baby is 4 or 14, find a way to come alongside and be present. Release the to-do list that will be longer tomorrow and remind yourself that right now, nothing can matter more.
Blessings on your day.